judith holofernes klimpt

Judith holofernes klimpt
When Klimt tackled the biblical theme of Judith, the historical course of art had already codified its main interpretation and preferred representation. In fact, many paintings exist describing the episode in a heroic manner, especially expressing Judith’s courage and virtuous nature. Judith appears as God’s instrument of salvation, but the violence of her action cannot be denied and is dramatically shown in Caravaggio’s rendering, [2] as well as those of Gentileschi and Bigot. [3] Other representations have depicted the subsequent moment, when a dazed Judith holds Holofernes’ severed head, as Moreau and Allori anticipate in their suggestive mythological paintings. [4]
Judith and the Head of Holofernes (also known as Judith I, German: Judith und Holofernes) [1] is an oil painting by Gustav Klimt created in 1901. It depicts the biblical character of Judith holding the severed head of Holofernes.

Judith holofernes klimpt
“Judith und der Kopf des Holofernes” is today displayed in the Österreichische Galerie at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, Austria to the great awe of thousands of tourists every year. For all other art lovers, Overstock Art provides hand made oil reproductions, stroke by stroke, of Klimt’s greatest works for those who wish to take a little lust home.
The dark night had fallen over Bethulia. A (symbolic) place in Jerusalem about to be taken and destroyed under the orders of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Assyria. General Holofernes had been dispatched to take vengeance of all the western nations who would refuse to worship the king alone, occupying all the territory along the seacoast. Bethulia would be next. News had come to Judith, a virtuous widow who was as brave as beautiful. On that night, Judith left the city surrounded by the enemy’s army and finds her way into Halofernes camp, where a banquet was taking place. As she finds the man who desired her, she attracted him to his tent, seduced him, served him wine to the point of weakness and decapitated him with his own sword. This is the biblical story of The Book of Judith, the woman who set her people free and inspired at least a hundred and forty one works of art – from Donatello and Botticelli to Rembrandt, Goya and Caravaggio.

Judith was the biblical heroine who seduced and then decapitated General Holofernes in order to save her home city of Bethulia from destruction by the enemy, the Assyrian army. The subject was quite popular from the Middle Ages onwards, as an example of virtue overcoming vice. However, this work is not timeless allegory, since Judith and the Head of Holoferness depicted as a Viennese society beauty. The model was Adele Bloch-Bauer and if we compare it with her portrait it is easy tosee the facial similarity. There seem to have been two principal Klimt types. The first was this dark-haired woman of angular build, also seen in Judith and the Head of HolofernesI. The other favorite was the fleshy, Rubenesque beauty portrayed in Danae. Judith’s sensuality and her orgasmic expression as she hholds up the head of Holofernes shocked Vienna. the Viennese could not bring themselves to see this brazen femme fatale, who is clearly taking pleasure in her actions, as the pious Jewish widow how risked her virtue in order to save her city. A far more acceptable solution was to insist that this was a picture of the murderess Salome, despite its being titled on the frame, and for a long time the painting was erroneously known as ‘Salome’.
Judith herself has in a sense been decapitated. The heavy gold choker she wears, fashionable in early twentieth-century Vienna, rather brutally separates her own head from her body. Her clothes half conceal, half reveal her body. The stylized gold band at te bottom of the picture looks as if it might be an ornamental hem to her garment, but then cuts across her abdomen like a flat belt. The painting was bought almost immediately by Klimt’s Swiss contemporary, the painter Ferdinand Hodler (1853 – 1918), whose work Klimt much admired.

When Klimt tackled the biblical theme of Judith, the historical course of art had already codified its main interpretation and preferential refiguration. In fact, many paintings exist, describing the episode in a heroic manner, especially expressing Judith’s courage and her virtuous nature. Judith appears as God’s instrument of salvation, but the violence of her action cannot be denied and is dramatically shown in Caravaggio’s rendering, as well as those of Gentileschi and Bigot. Other representations have chosen the subsequent moment, when a dazed Judith holds Holofernes’ severed head, as Moreau and Allori anticipate in their suggestive mythological paintings.
Klimt deliberately ignores any narrative reference whatsoever, and concentrates his pictorial rendering solely on Judith, so much so that he cuts off [ha ha] Holofernes’ head at the right margin. And there is no trace of bloodied sword, as if the heroine would have used a different weapon: an omission that legitimates association with Salome. The moment preceding the killing — the seduction of Nebuchadnezzar’s general — seems to coalesce with the conclusive part of the story.

Judith holofernes klimpt
Judith I reveals a curious symbolic and compositional consonance with The Sin by Franz Stuck: the temptation illustrated by the German painter becomes the model for Klimt’s femme fatale by suggesting the posture of the disrobed and evanescent body as focal piece of the canvas, as well as the facial set. Judith’s force originates from the close-up and the solidity of posture, rendered by the orthogonal projection of lines: to the body’s verticality (and that of Holofernes’) corresponds the horizontal parallels in the lower margin: those of the arm, the shoulders joined by the collier, and finally the hair base. Judith was the biblical heroine who seduced and then decapitated General Holofernes in order to save her home city of Bethulia from destruction by the enemy, the Assyrian army.
When Klimt tackles the biblical theme of Judith, the historical course of art has already codified its main interpretation and preferential representation. In fact, many paintings exist, describing the episode in a heroic manner, especially expressing Judith’s courage and her virtuous nature. Judith appears as God’s instrument of salvation, but the violence of her action cannot be denied and is dramatically shown in Caravaggio’s rendering, as well as those of Gentileschi and Bigot. Other representations have chosen the subsequent moment, when a dazed Judith holds Holofernes’ severed head, as Moreau and Allori anticipate in their suggestive mythological paintings.

References:

http://www.overstockart.com/blog/judith-and-the-head-of-holofernes/
http://www.gustav-klimt.com/Judith-and-the-Head-of-Holofernes.jsp
http://curiator.com/art/gustav-klimt/judith-and-the-head-of-holofernes
http://www.wikiart.org/en/gustav-klimt/judith-and-holopherne-1901
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Beheading_Holofernes_(Caravaggio)

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